HAMMONTON – A program to plant 100 trees in the coming year and hold a corn maze fundraiser in the fall were among the new programs outlined when the Hammonton Rotary Club held its 60th annual changeover dinner Monday, June 5, at Rocco’s Townhouse House.
The centerpiece of the annual event was the swearing in of a new president for 2017-2018, as outgoing club President Joe Brown turned over the reins to incoming President Don DeFiccio.
Brown detailed the club’s successful fundraisers for 2016-2017, including a beer festival held with the Kiwanis Club at Hammonton Lake Park, a Harley Davidson raffle, the second annual Hammonton Gravy vs Sauce competition, and the club’s signature event, the Homemade Wine Competition, which has become a Hammonton favorite for many.
“Without the hard work and due diligence of our members these events would have never taken place and or have been as successful as they were,” said Brown, wrapping up his second stint as club president.
Brown gave special acknowledgement to members Maribeth Capelli (gravy event), and Jerry Daunoras and Don DeFiccio (wine event) for their efforts in making the fundraisers a success. He also expressed appreciation for outgoing secretary Rob DeRose for always being available to get things done.
Brown noted two other major accomplishments for the year: the chartering of an Interact Club at Hammonton High School, which is the youth version of Rotary International, and the return of Hammonton USA (United Service Associations), which he initiated 14 years ago and had not been active in a decade.
Brown said Interact would not have been the success it was without the support of club advisor Teah Daniels, technology teacher at the high school.
Hammonton USA takes two members each from the Lions Club, Exchange Club, Kiwanis Club, Rotary Club, Puerto Rican Civic Association, Soroptimists, Women’s Civic Club, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Society, Sons of Italy, Hammonton Hawks and the Blue and White Gridiron Club to work on a single community project.
“On short notice we had a beef and beer at Kerri Brooke catering for the Hammonton Hawks move from the lake park over to the middle school football field. I’m proud to say that Hammonton USA was able make a little more than $15,000 in less than five weeks,” he said.
Also noting Rotary’s fundraising success, DeFiccio outlined programs the club’s fundraising efforts support. These include youth sports, which the club has been backing since it was founded, the St. Vincent de Paul Food Pantry, with donations of money and volunteer hours, the scholarship program, which has awarded more than $40,000 since 2001, and RYLA, a district wide youth leadership conference held for high school juniors at Stockton University each summer.
There is also Interact. To mark the 100th anniversary of Rotary International Foundation, Rotary Clubs around the world have been asked to plant 100 saplings. DeFiccio said he will seek support for this project from the three Interact clubs supported by Hammonton Rotary: Hammonton High School, St. Joseph High School and Buena Regional.
Interact is also helping to organize a corn maze fundraiser this fall.
“We all know that Rotary is all about community service and helping others by service above self,” DeFiccio said. “I believe this starts at a young age and that is why I think it is very important to have the Interact Club involved. Hopefully the Interact Club members will go on to attend RYLA and then post high school continue their service as Rotarians.”
Also in the works a bicycle raffle during the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel.
DeFiccio noted that the club has a history of doing hands-on projects including building a handicapped access ramp, installing a chairlift in the home of a handicapped person and building a concession stand for you soccer. During his presidency he is looking to undertake a community project, which has not yet been identified.
Also at the meeting, Hammonton Rotary introduced the winner of this year’s Hammonton Rotary Foundation Scholarship, which recognizes service, leadership and academics. Alexandra Guillot has been awarded $2,000 toward her studies in social entrepreneurship at Babson College in Massachusetts. She hopes to head up a nonprofit someday.
The Hammonton resident founded her own service organization the Hammonton Helpers, participated in Rotary’s RYLA program, and was the first president of the newly formed Interact Club at Hammonton High School.
The club was also treated to a talk by 2011 scholarship winner Caryn Sanfilippo, a graduate of Stockton University and a grad student in physical therapy at Neumann University, who described how receiving the scholarship inspired her to continue to work in service for others.
Other initiatives for the year include membership and the president’s signature project, which in the past have included the purchase of a police dog for the town and bullet proof vests for officers.
One idea DeFiccio is considering for support is a for a water filtration project he learned about that teaches people in South American countries how to install and maintain their own water filtration system.
“Some might say our club does too much,” he said. “But I feel with each member involved in specific avenues of service, no one member is overloaded to the point of burnout. By doing this and continuing to grow our club with new members the Hammonton Rotary Club will continue to grow and be a strong and vibrant club for at least the next 60 years.”
Tom Fletcher, member of the Washington Township Rotary Club and incoming district governor for District 7640, administered the oath of office to DeFiccio.
He praised Hammonton Rotary for its 60-year milestone and for starting a new Interact Club, noting that with over 4,000 Interact members, South Jersey is one of the most active areas for Interact
“Young people are our future, we’ve got to encourage them, we’ve got to mentor them, we’ve got to engage them in Rotary,” he said.
He noted the 100th anniversary of the Rotary International Foundation, which has given away more than $4 billion over that time, much of it for its big project, the eradication of polio worldwide.
“Thirty years ago when we started this quest there were 365,000 cases of polio, 1,000 cases a day. Now there are five cases in the world; that’s it, that’s how far we’ve come. Rotary feels we’ll be done with that next three years.”